One black pawn sitting in line with white chess pieces set up properly on the board, representing the way FIRE community members stand out from their peers.
Mind Money

When it Comes to Money, Different is Better

My pastor recently gave an example of how most people react in a situation where several people around them agree on something that is clearly wrong.

He described an experiment with eight people in a room. Seven of them were actors while the eighth was “the experiment.” They looked at a picture of four bar-graph-like lines. Three closely side by side and one sitting a few inches away by itself. The question was simple. Which of the three lines was the same length as the single line? The answer was obvious. It wasn’t even close.

Even though people around us make the wrong decisions, we stick to our financial principals.

In several iterations the entire group would answer correctly. Then things changed. Eventually, several of the actors started answering incorrectly. The participants got noticeably uncomfortable. By the time all seven actors answered incorrectly, the participants would frequently conform and give the incorrect answer, going along with the group.

When it Comes to Money, Different is Better

60% of Americans don’t have $1,000 in savings. 43% Of families carry a balance on their credit cards from month to month, and the average family has $16,000 in credit card debt. 20% Have NOTHING saved for retirement. This is an emergency for these people!

Listen, if you really mean it. If you really want it. If you’re serious about reaching your lofty financial goals, you’re going to have to be DIFFERENT than almost everyone around you.

Unless you live in Financial Independence Disney Land, your coworkers, closest friends, and family probably don’t share your financial beliefs. You will constantly be the person in the experiment. Except this time it’s different. You’re not going to agree with everyone else just to fit in.

What Being Different Can Do For You

Are you willing to bring your own brown bag lunch when your coworkers invite you out to lunch at Olive Garden? Will you drive your 15 year old Civic when your friend buys a brand new Mustang GT and brags about his 0.9% interest rate?

What I’m asking is: do you have the guts to stand firm on your financial principals when everyone around you is saying that you’re wrong?

If the answer is yes, that’s great news! Being different can save you millions of dollars. That’s not an exaggeration. Here are three examples of what being different in a few areas can do for you.

Skip Starbucks on your way to work every day and you’ll save $18,800 over 10 years*.

Reject the idea that you’ll always have a car payment and save $94,881**.

Enjoy a walk, the beach, or the park instead of the movie theater or other expensive leisure activities and you can save over $42,000***.

Less than 1% of Americans retire before the age of 50. Are you willing to be the 1 in 100 who raises his hand and says “I know the right answer, and these 99 people are wrong”?

Just some food for thought as you read through Four Walls of FIRE’s articles inching closer and closer to Financial Independence with every word.

You’re different, and it’s going to be AMAZING. Just wait.

I used Money Chimp Compound Interest Calculator for all calculations in this article.

* $5 Coffee every work day for 10 years compounded at 7% interest.
** $545 Monthly car payment over 10 years compounded at 7% interest.
***Average Americans spend $2,913 annually on entertainment. Compounded annually at 7% interest.

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